The Criminal Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] unanimously confirmed on Tuesday the lower court order that National Court judge Baltasar Garzon [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] abused his power and must face trial. Garzon was charged [JURIST report] in April for his attempt to investigate the war crimes allegedly committed under Francisco Franco [BBC backgrounder] during the Spanish Civil War [LOC backgrounder]charges Garzon claims were politically motivated. The board of judges denied [El Pais report, in Spanish] Garzon's appeal of the order, and he will now face trial later this year. The judges found that the witnesses called by Garzon will produce merely personal opinions and also determined that exhumation of 19 mass graves that Garzon ordered [JURIST report] in 2008 was inappropriate. The ruling comes just days after an Argentine court reopened [JURIST report] the case against Franco for his alleged crimes against humanity.
Garzon has faced turmoil since his 2008 decision. In May, the Spanish General Counsel of the Judiciary (CGPJ) [official website, in Spanish] voted unanimously to suspend [JURIST report] Garzon. Later that month, the judiciary oversight committee of the CGPJ approved a request [JURIST report] by Garzon to work with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. The ICC asked [press release] Garzon to work for them as a consultant for a period of seven months in order to improve their investigative methods. Thousands gathered [JURIST report] in cities across Spain in April in support of Garzon, chanting slogans and displaying flags of the pre-war Republican government ousted by Franco. Garzon is widely known for using universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] extensively in the past to bring several high-profile rights cases, including those against Osama bin Laden and former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.